Sunday, September 15, 2013
Concert review: A perfectly fun. band wins with pop-rock in Dallas
It lost when it tried to do real rock, however.
DALLAS The most telling moment in fun.’s fizzy, low-calorie show Thursday night at Gexa Energy Pavilion came when the New York pop trio followed its Grammy-winning “We Are Young” with an embarrassing rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.”
The idea must have looked good idea on paper: Two anthems about youthful dreams, recorded a generation apart, but played back to back to help fans connect the dots.
But there’s an obvious danger in equating rock milestones with pop songs in the key of Glee. “Born to Run” is a majestic poem about searching for love and meaning in life. “We Are Young” is a disposable ditty about getting drunk and looking for a hook-up at closing time.
Fun.’s hollow reading of “Born to Run” -- hampered by weak guitar playing and a rote sax solo -- made it all the more clear they should stick to lighter fare. And when they did, the show was perfectly fun.
Frontman Nate Ruess put on a convincing spectacle, hopping in place like a kid in a bounce house, making snow-angels on a stage full of white confetti and glaring into the crowd like a dinner-theater actor doing Hamlet. He packed his singing voice with melodrama, too, and demanded that fans sing with equal gusto. “This better be loud!” he commanded.
Flanked by his fellow fun. mates Jack Antonoff and Andrew Dost, a tuxedo-clad Ruess started the show with a lovely cabaret version of “Some Nights” and reprised it later as a rousing folk singalong that has become fun.’s trademark. “Carry On,” the third big hit from the group’s Some Nights album, sounded tailor-made for Irish pubs, soccer stadiums and 20,000-seat amphitheaters like Gexa Energy Pavilion.
Yet the energy waned as soon as the singalongs ended and the band had to play such lesser tunes as the sentimental ballad “The Gambler” and the ersatz Caribbean “At Least I’m Not as Sad (As I Used to Be).” It’s hard to fault a band for dreaming big -- “We’re gonna make this the best show of the summer!” Ruess screamed -- but at this early point in its career, fun. might be better off aiming lower.
Tegan and Sara opened the show with 55 minutes of charming ‘80s-style electro-pop. These lesbian identical twins from Canada definitely aren’t the Everly Brothers: Their harmonies sounded even more off-kilter Thursday than they do on record. But they made up for it with some of peppiest songs ever written about heartache and loneliness.
Thor Christensen is a Dallas writer and critic.